I was fired for taking initiative (and undermining my manager)

I’m on vacation today. This was originally published in 2016.

A reader writes:

Last summer, I decided to re-enter the workforce after five years of raising my kids. I applied to a bunch of jobs that I thought I could do, and got an interview at this one very small  company (~20 employees). The people I interviewed with — my future manager and her boss/the COO — were upfront with me that I didn’t possess the exact qualifications they were looking for, but I interviewed well and they decided to give me a few (paid) one-off assignments to see if I would be able to learn what I needed to do the job. I proved myself and they brought me on full-time. 

I spent the first four months at that company doing a lot of learning on my own. My manager (let’s call her Betty) wasn’t very involved with my training at all, always claiming she had tons of work to do. Instead, she gave me lists of resources (training manuals, online certification classes, etc.) to go through, checked in with me maybe once a day, and assigned me a “starter project” so that I could “learn on the job.” So I basically taught myself everything I needed to learn, and the project I worked on was a huge success for the company. It launched about five months after I was hired. I got a raise out of it, and everyone in management seemed very happy with my work.

Once I had finished that project and the account I’d launched was doing well, I noticed some of the tactics/skills I’d used could be implemented on another account that wasn’t performing as well as the one I’d just launched.  I told Betty about my plan, and she completely blew me off. Basically she told me that she “already had plans” for this account, that she didn’t need my help, and instead assigned me to another (less important) project. Needless to say, I was more than a little insulted by her attitude. 

But I know that sometimes you have to push hard to get things done. I calmed myself down, and waited until the next day when Betty left for a vacation, and I went to Betty’s boss (Veronica). I walked her through the improvements I wanted to make on this other account. I was given the green light to go ahead and start that work. Clearly this was the right thing to do! Veronica wouldn’t have given me the go-ahead otherwise, right?

Well, Betty returned from her vacation on a Friday a few weeks later. I came in that Monday morning and found that she had sabotaged all of my work over the weekend! She went through everything I’d worked on that had already launched and made a bunch of changes, took down some stuff, and more. Essentially she did everything she could so that I wouldn’t be able to show the improvements that I’d made to the suffering account, and reverted it to how it was performing in the past.  She also sent me a very passive-aggressive email along the lines of “let’s chat about this first thing Monday.”

In order to preempt another hissy fit from her, and once I assessed the gravity of what she’d done, I went into the meeting with Betty, but pulled Veronica into the conference room as well. I proceeded to explain to Betty that this project had been assigned to me by Veronica, and that she had no business interfering with my work. I was very clear that what she had done was unprofessional, extremely disrespectful, that the results I’d produced were speaking for themselves and that she shouldn’t meddle in things that don’t concern her.  Of course I was very angry and maybe I was a little forceful during that meeting, but I feel like I had every right to be upset at what she did! 

Betty was very quiet during this meeting. At the time I figured she just couldn’t think of how to defend her actions. Now I understand it’s because she’s even more conniving than I thought she was.

The next morning, I was called in to sit down with Veronica and the CEO. They told me that things weren’t working out, gave me a severance check, and told me I was laid off. 

I feel that I was treated extremely unfairly by this company. I had a clearly incompetent manager, I never received proper training, and when I tried to help by taking on important projects, my work was sabotaged and I was punished for my initiative. I think Betty may even have spread harsh rumors about me in the industry because despite applying to a bunch of jobs since then, I’ve had very few interviews, and the ones I’ve had never went past the references stage. 

Some of my friends are telling me I should let this go and count my blessings that I’m out of that environment, while my husband wants me to get a lawyer involved. Money’s tight right now, and I really need income, even if it’s returning to work for that company (under a different manager). What should I do? 

You weren’t fired for taking initiative. You were fired for undermining your manager by going around her to her own boss after she already told you no, and for not being clear with Veronica that Betty had already told you no, and for having a bizarrely aggressive attitude about it when called out on it.

Here’s how this looks from a manager’s perspective:

* You offered to take on a particular project, but your manager told you she had it covered. You found this insulting, even though it’s your manager’s prerogative to decide who will work on what projects, to have her own plans for accounts, and to decline your help.

* As soon as your manager left for vacation, you went over her head to her own boss to ask the same question that you’d already been told no about. You didn’t tell Veronica that Betty had already told you no, which means that she didn’t have the full context to make a decision.

* You interpreted Veronica’s “yes” as meaning that Betty had been wrong, when all it really means is that Veronica didn’t have full information. When you write, “Veronica wouldn’t have given me the go-ahead otherwise, right?” the answer to that is no. Betty probably knows the work she oversees more intimately than Veronica, and could have all sorts of good reasons for saying no that Veronica didn’t know about (for instance, that your ideas had been tried in the past but didn’t work for particular reasons, or that a stronger plan was already in progress, or that the client specifically rejected those ideas in the past, or all sorts of other things). But even leaving that aside, there’s no way that Veronica wouldn’t want to know that Betty had already weighed in on this, and it seems like you intentionally didn’t tell her that.

* Then, when called out on it once Betty returned, you disingenuously claimed that Veronica had assigned you the work — when in fact you’d asked Veronica to let you do it without telling her Betty had already said no.

* Most incredibly, you had the audacity to say that Betty had no business “interfering” with your work — when she is your manager. Your manager’s business is to intervene in your work, if that’s what she judges is needed. She has complete standing to interfere in your work. You even said she shouldn’t meddle “in things that don’t concern her,” when your entire job is her concern.

* To make matters worse, you describe yourself as being angry and forceful in the meeting where you asserted all this.

* Throughout this, you interpreted all of Betty’s behavior in the worst possible light: You say she wasn’t involved with your training when she was meeting with you daily, gave you what sounds like significant resources to learn from, and assigned you work designed to help you learn on the job — all of which sounds pretty good, not something worthy of contempt.  When she undid the work that you did after she specifically told you not to, you called that sabotage (!). You described her as “passive-aggressive” when she said you’d need to meet to discuss all this, when that’s just straightforward and direct. You describe her as having “hissy fits” and being “conniving.” This is just a bizarrely adversarial approach toward Betty, and it’s rooted in a really fundamental misunderstanding of what your manager’s role is and the authority that she has over your work.

I’ll be blunt here: I would have fired you too. Most managers would. This isn’t a matter of making a mistake. This is a situation where you deliberately went around your boss, deceived your boss’s boss, and attacked when called out on it, and you still don’t think you did anything wrong. Firing was a logical response.

As for getting a lawyer involved, I’m not sure what grounds your husband thinks you’d have for legal action, but nothing you’ve described here is illegal. Companies are allowed to fire people for any reason they want, as long as it’s not based on race, sex, religion, disability, or other protected characteristics and as long as it’s not as retaliation for exercising a legally protected right like reporting discrimination. Even if Betty was wrong in her assessment — and it doesn’t sound like she was — it would be perfectly legal to fire you for any of this.

The best thing you can do now is to use this as a flag that you need to do some serious re-thinking about how offices work and what it means to have a manager. If you find another job without doing that, you’re going to see this repeat itself.

{ 418 comments… read them below }

      1. Kes*

        I thought for a sec this was an update and I was so excited, then I realized it’s a rerun. It sure is a doozy.

      2. SometimesALurker*

        I lolsnorted at your comment, TimeTravlR, but also, there have been a number of times when a letter-writer was originally wildly off-base in a way that seemed to be a reflection of how they viewed the world as well as work and that particular situation, but then actually got a wake-up call from Alison’s and the commentariat’s responses and their follow-up showed that they were working to change. So a follow-up letter wouldn’t be unprecedented!

        1. KWu*

          There have also been updates where the LW dug in further, like the leap year birthday one! Amazing, in the true sense of the word.

          1. Starbuck*

            My favorite is a really trivial one – someone stealing juice from a break room (but they insisted it wasn’t stealing, somehow) and getting fired over it, then coming back to argue about it in the comments. Many interesting side-tangents on the concept of communal break room food vs off-limits personal snacks.

          2. Candi*

            There was also the kinda update to the dress code one. The LW didn’t send in an update, but nearly a year later one of the other interns involved wrote Alison for advice. And he (male pseudonym plonked in place of his real one) was genuinely contrite and realized he effed up.

      3. Effective Immediately*

        Right?! I was desperately hoping for a follow up to this one. At the very least, I hope the OP read the response!

    1. De Minimis*

      Yeah this is one I find myself thinking about frequently, especially when I’m in work situations where management has kind of left me to figure out things on my own. I’ll think about how I shouldn’t do anything like this!

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        Well, LW did fine when left to figure things out on their own. It’s when the boss gave them specific directions, and LW took it on themselves to… circumvent… those directions, that things went south in a hurry.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      It is a true classic. I remember when this was originally published, I read it several times, and each time my WTF?!? level just kept rising.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          On a scale of 1 to cheap ass rolls, this letter goes to 11.
          (Thanks to the letter writer who came up with that scale earlier this month.)

          1. TrackingCookieMonster*

            “Well, it’s one crazier, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be working at ten. You’re on ten there, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten in your office. Where can you go from there? Where?”

        2. marymoocow*

          I somehow missed the cheap ass rolls letter, so thank you for mentioning it. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time.

        3. Generic-username*

          Wow, I just looked that one up and all I can say is… wow. I’m not sure what goes on in people’s heads. The persecution complex is astounding

        4. AJoftheInternet*

          And the business owner who didn’t know where her products were sourced and let someone twist her relationship with the only person who did.

      1. Nom*

        My favorite one is the one where the employer won’t acknowledge his employee’s birthday because it’s on Leap Day.

    3. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      A classic indeed! This is right up there at “AITA” level (and yes, the LW definitely IS the a-hole). I think I know where she ended up – working for a company part time, where she screws up other colleagues’ hotel reservations on business trips, cancels them and re-books them at another hotel owned by her friend Lol.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      And if all her friends agree with her, they’re either as unaware or (more likely) know that there’s no point in arguing with her. Not if you want to have a peaceful relationship.

      1. Anonariffic*

        Or they’re agreeing with her because all they’ve been told is her very selective version of events- “Veronica assigned me a project and I was making amazing progress until Betty got back from vacation and was so threatened by my talent that she sabotaged the project and had me fired.”

        1. MissBaudelaire*


          When OP tells the story she is a tragic heroine, who didn’t deserve it. And I bet she’s also so gracious for not calling a lawyer!

          1. A Poster Has No Name*

            Part of me really hopes she ignored Alison’s advice and did contact a lawyer, as it would give the lawyer a nice, long laugh and a story to tell at bar association happy hours.

        2. CoveredInBees*

          I know someone who committed fraud against their company but the company was graceful and *only* fired them. Yes, I know for a fact that they committed fraud and that the company had proof. Instead of taking the loss and trying to move on, this person told their tale of woe constantly. They were the innocent victim who had contributed so much and were totally unappreciated. An otherwise totally believable tale which garnered much sympathy and, eventually, even a new job.

          1. Effective Immediately*

            I almost thought this was in reference to a former boss of mine, except they haven’t been able to get a new job, but that’s even more worrisome, as it means there’s more than one out there.

      2. londonedit*

        Or she’s only given them the abridged ‘I can’t believe Betty sabotaged my work, I’m a star performer, I was showing initiative and sorting out this terrible project of hers, she obviously just felt threatened and had to get me fired’ version of events.

      3. BRR*

        I’ve also seen where friend groups are just giant echo chambers even though the best thing for the LW would be to provide a dose of reality. They are always expected to take the friend’s side, regardless if they are aware or unaware of things.

        1. Tuesday*

          I’ve seen that too. It’s supposed to be a show of support, but really, helping someone delude themselves can be pretty damaging in the end.

          1. Candi*

            While giving them a dose of reality can make them mentally healthier.

            I’ll always be grateful to the online friends who were willing to kick me in the tail when I was wrong. It’s made me a much better person all around.

        2. CountryLass*

          I had this where a friend and her husband were working on something with me, and she was doing it wrong, he (gently and nicely) pointed out that they were too close together, and she got s bit stroppy and told him to do it himself. I looked and agreed with him, and she said I was supposed to be on her side! I just pointed out that when she is in the right, I WILL be on her side!

      4. Essess*

        Based on the original story where the OP only tells half of a story in order to get the outcome they want, it’s pretty obvious that they didn’t bother to tell the friends the complete story of what they did.

      5. English Rose*

        Sometimes you just have to go for peace. I have a close relative who has a record of getting into this sort of situation at successive jobs. At first I tried to talk them through what had actually happened and coach a bit and I was always just ‘unsupportive’ and ‘insensitive’. So now I listen for a while, try to change the subject and see my relative far less often. It’s sad. Be interesting to know if LW has a high friend turnover!

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Un-self awareness

      My boss is conniving because she got me fired after “I calmed myself down, and waited until the next day when Betty left for a vacation, and I went to Betty’s boss (Veronica)…” LOL! LW doesn’t understand who was conniving in this situation.

      Going around your boss while she is on vacation to her boss and them leaving out crucial information about how your ideas have already been rejected is conniving and sneaky, LW.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        I often find that the things people accuse others of being are actually the things they, the complainer, are guilty of. Basically, projection.

        Conniving? Passive aggressive? Blowing her off? Pulling an attitude? Meddling in things that are none of her business?

        Basically, almost everything she uses to characterize Betty can actually be applied to herself, and in some ways she knows it, and so she sees it in others’ behavior even when it’s not there. Like when cheaters are really obsessed with whether they’re being cheated on.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          Yes – it really struck me at the time (and still does) that everything the OP accused Betty of doing, they had done themselves. It IS almost like it goes beyond un-self-awareness, into self-delusion. At some level, the person just had to have known what they were doing was completely off-side, but refused to see it and projected it onto Betty.

          1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

            After going deep into certain reddit communities and digging myself back out, I now see unstable narcissism in everything. Or at the very least, that kind of ego-defensive self delusion.

        2. Jyn’Leeviyah the Red*

          It’s like the classic “No, YOU are!” Because self-reflection would mean maybe realizing you were wrong about one thing…and then what ELSE could you have been wrong about?! Better to double- and triple-down and be the wronged party!

          1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

            This is why I always say that people are not as sneaky as they realize. Most people are terrible at lying–they just get away with it because most people aren’t always looking out for lies. Or… they don’t get away with it, and don’t notice.

            [Also hail, Red Wizard.]

        3. AcademiaNut*

          There’s definitely a class of letter to relationship advice columnists which I have come to realize boil down to “I’m worried potential partners are as shallow as I am”. Including most of the ones drifting over to incel territory.

          1. Effective Immediately*

            My favorite for letters like these (though it’s now defunct) was always Bad Advisor.

            They pulled all the best ‘seeking validation for my shitty behavior’ letters and gave the advice the LW seemingly wanted to hear. Both cringe-worthy and hilarious. I miss that blog.

      2. JustaTech*

        I had a boss’s boss who did this once: 2X boss waited until my immediate boss went on vacation to assign a coworker and I a really dumb project that our boss would have successfully argued 2X boss out of.

        It did not improve our impression of the competence of our 2X boss.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        It wasn’t in the letter but I assumed when this letter was first printed, and still think, that the LW must have alluded to Betty’s “no” when she talked to Veronica? Otherwise wouldn’t a more normal response from Veronica be “have you discussed this with Betty as this is really her area” rather than just approving it?

        1. MsSolo (UK)*

          I suspect if it came up LW’s answer may well have been a disingenuously factual “oh, she’s on vacation right now”.

          1. Run mad; don't faint*

            “We touched base about it briefly but she is on vacation now and isn’t available to give me more guidance.”

            1. zillah*

              it also sounds like betty had left on quite a long vacation – the op talks about her returning “a few weeks” later. if the op didn’t present the situation as a “betty said no,” veronica might have just thought it wasn’t worth waiting.

              1. Clorinda*

                A few weeks is more than a vacation, maybe maternity leave. I mean, this LW is so unreliable, she’s more than capable of describing maternity or other medical leave as vacation.

                1. Your Local Password Resetter*

                  A few weeks seems like a normal vacation to me.
                  A bit on the longer side, but nothing unusual.

                2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

                  My friends and I have been known to debate the definition of “a few”; I define it as 3-5, but others had different ranges.

                  Using my definition of “a few” and my limited experience, 3-5 weeks would be a long-ish vacation, but definitely still a vacation length absence.

                3. PollyQ*

                  “A few” could be two, and plenty of people take vacations that long. LW’s interpretation is badly skewed, but I don’t get a sense that any of the facts she’s reported are inconsistent or dishonest.

                4. Bethany*

                  You can’t take a vacation for a few weeks?

                  Jeez, it’s not uncommon for me and my colleagues to take 4-6 weeks.

                5. TheSüperflüoüsUmlaüt*

                  “A few weeks is more than a vacation”

                  Eh? I don’t consider I’ve had a real vacation *unless* I’ve taken at least two to four weeks.

        2. BRR*

          I’m just guessing but I don’t think the LW alluded to Betty’s “no.” I think the LW just met with Veronica and said “I would like to do A, B, and C.” I’m not quite sure why Veronica gave the go ahead unless she thought Betty knew about these plans already or she responded “Yeah these ideas sound great” and made assumption that the LW wasn’t going against Betty’s plan.

          But I don’t trust everything in this letter anyways so who knows. It’s kind of remarkable that we’re getting one person’s clearly biased point of view and still unanimously think they were in the wrong.

        3. Chelle*

          Betty was away. But also, I think I would assume that someone would not go around their boss and undermine them. Not unless they had given me previous reason to I guess.

        4. hbc*

          It’s such a critical thing to leave out that I wouldn’t often think to ask the question. There’s a reason “What did [other parent] say?” is the standard version of this: usually it’s only children who try an obvious runaround and think it’s going to work out in the long run.

          I’m getting a headache just thinking about the other things that I would have to ask in this situation if I couldn’t trust information like this to be volunteered. “Are you dropping more important projects to do this one? Has the client said that they want to keep it as-is? Does the change involve violating any laws? Does getting this done involve roping in other employees who may have other priorities?” Etc, etc. At some point, you have to assume you’ve hired people with reasonable judgment and deal with the outliers appropriately.

        5. Candi*

          LW was not going to allude to Betty’s “no”, since LW was determined to work on the project and show how “brilliant” she was. Even hinting Betty said “no” could ruin that.

          People like LW will say “they discussed it with Betty”, with tone and body language to imply Betty either didn’t have time to discuss it, or that Betty approved. They won’t say “she said no” because they want what they want, and they won’t say “she said yes” so as to cover their tails that they didn’t really lie.

  1. Artemesia*

    This one is hard to take seriously; hard to imagine a genuine workplace situation where the complainer is this obtuse. I get going around the manager, but then telling the MANAGER they have no business telling you what to do on the account — really? There is someone so clueless they believe this?

    1. PT*

      You know though, I have encountered several people who are this delusional in the workplace. Depending on whose ear they have, they can cause a lot of trouble before they get fired.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        And she’s been out of that environment for 5 years.

        I bet her kids’ teachers have to deal with some interesting perspectives, too.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I could see my mom in this. Fortunately, she’s retired. But there are times when we’ve worked together on stuff that I’m torn between thinking she needed to spend more time working outside the home at someone else’s mercy, and thinking that I’m glad more people didn’t have to manage her.

          1. JohannaCabal*

            Same. My mom stopped working in the early ’80s. When I was a teenager, I once asked her what she would do if something happened to Dad. Mom pointed to her master’s degree diploma (received a month before she left the workforce) and said that she would use her degree to get a guidance counselor job (it had been 15 years since she’d worked in education at that point).

            Even as an ignorant teen, I knew that would be almost impossible without job experience. I’m so thankful nothing ever happened to Dad! I loved my mom but I could see her having the same type of attitude in a job, even including the persecution complex!

            1. Dust Bunny*

              My mom knows her academic experience is hopelessly outdated but she cannot take constructive criticism on personal interactions. At all. She goes from zero to martyr almost immediately.

              My dad is still very much alive and they’re old enough now that it’s not going to be an issue, but, wow, can she butt heads with people on committee work, etc.

              1. Candi*

                Both of your moms sound like the kind of people who ask why I went back to school when I had a perfectly good certificate. :|

                That ward clerk certificate is twenty years old, and there’s a BIG difference between it and the IT Bachelor’s I’m going for. (And besides the age, there’s the technology issue -when I got the certificate, the job was still 90% on paper. Now it’s about 95% computerized. That’s a big training gap.)

        2. rl09*

          “And she’s been out of that environment for 5 years.”

          Honestly some of the phrases in the original letter make me wonder if she held any professional jobs before having kids.

          For example, she says, “I applied to a bunch of jobs that I thought I could do.” If you had prior working experience before having kids, wouldn’t you start by applying for jobs similar to the roles you’ve had in the past? I am kind of wondering if this is a situation where the LW had kids immediately after college graduation or something, so she never really got any professional experience.

          1. OyHiOh*

            Before I decided to stay home with children, I had a ten year professional work history. However, that history was primarily in hospitality and customer service. When I decided to start working outside the home, I was in fact looking for “jobs I thought I could do.” I do, however, have considerably more self awareness than this particular poster and made use of very similar training to what she describes to do well.

            1. Martha*

              Same here. I didn’t want to go back to being a line cook because it pays so poorly, so I started looking for anything entry-level but not retail.

          2. Nea*

            I’ve been thinking today about how her approach would have flown if it came from her kids.

            “Did you ask Dad if you could go on a field trip?”
            “Dad went to work, so I’m asking you.”
            “All right, you can go on the trip, sounds good.”
            “Mom! Mom! Dad saw me getting on the schoolbus for the trip and ordered me off! I can’t believe he was that horrible! You tell him he’s not allowed to parent like that, you said he was okay?”
            “Honey, did Kid tell you that the field trip was to a processing plant where they package peanuts?”
            “Kid! You’re allergic! You could have gotten sick!”
            You said it was okay, so it must have been okay! Dad had no right to pull me off the bus!”

          3. JohannaCabal*

            Or she worked at toxic company where things like this were common. If I’d left the workforce after my first post-college job, my only work experience would have been at a place where gossip, passive-aggressiveness, and backstabbing was common. I think the only thing that kept me from carrying that to other jobs was a layoff that forced me to re-examine work and its role in my life.

            1. linger*

              There’s something to that. If the LW was out of the workforce for years, their previous work experience could all have been in young peer workforces (fresh out of school, hence lacking professional norms, gossip-driven, etc) and this would have been the behaviour and attitude she brought back into the workplace with her later, at a stage where it would normally be rather less expected.

          4. Le Sigh*

            Depends. I have a friend who worked primarily as a receptionist when she decided to stay home with her kids. Being a receptionist wasn’t what she was passionate about, but she liked it enough until she reached a point where she felt staying home was the right call. And while reception work is a specific skill set, she wanted to widen her options when she jumped back into the workforce — so she applied to anything that translated to her skills and that she was interested in.

            Or there’s my aunt — the industry/career she left to raise her kids rapidly evolved and her skills became dated really, really fast. When she dove back in 10 years later, she wasn’t that interested in her old industry (nor the work required to brush up her skills) — so she focused her search on jobs that sounded interesting and included her general skill set. She landed on being a teaching assistant and was really good at it!

            1. Candi*

              Your friend’s story, and the receptionist skills applicable to other jobs, reminds me of a comment I saw a few years ago -I think it was on this site somewhere.

              A company was interested in increasing gender equality in the workplace and hiring based on skill rather than some role = gender garbage.

              But when they advertised for a secretary role, they got a 90f/10m ratio, even after changing the title to admin. asst.

              This bothered them, since it reflected poorly on their goal of breaking traditional roles in the workplace. Then someone suggested not using a job title, and just listing the duties of the position.

              Ratio of applicants changed to 60f/40m. Says something about conscious and unconscious bias and transferrable skills.

        3. quill*

          When my mom taught in public school, she’d get a parent every few years that made her wonder how they managed to remain employed… most of them pick someone other than their manager to act this way towards, though!

    2. Mental Lentil*

      Oh my, yes. I’ve worked with a lot of people who get ONE WAY to see things in their mind and that is all they can ever see, no matter how hard you try to get them to see a bigger picture. (I sometimes think this is what happens when you never say “no” to your children.)

      1. Candi*

        It also happens with people who are firmly convinced the way they see is the RIGHT way, and no other way can ever be RIGHT. Even if their right is not correct.

        On the plus side, being so stuck on One Way Being Right means dad never did clue in that when I was reading about mythologies, I was also learning about other religions. He thought of mythology as tales of beliefs long gone, and didn’t realize that all living religions have their own stories, often packaged as myths for those who don’t believe the same way. Ditto for history: It’s fine to learn about the Ottoman Empire. It never clicked that I was also learning about one sect of Islam, as well.

      2. Paperdill*

        Or is it what happened children are only ever told “no” and never taught and encouraged to to discuss, negotiate, communicate, reason and to understand?

    3. JR*

      A former coworker who did get fired for a similar level of delusional incompetence bragged that her improvements to a project saved us over a million dollars.

      The entire annual budget for that project was under $100,000. Her improvements caused such severe problems that several more experienced staff had to spend days figuring out what she had done and undoing her work just to get it back to baseline functioning after she was let go.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I had a former coworker like that, too. Apparently on her last day, she responded to the news of being let go with a passionate speech about how my boss and grandboss were making a big mistake, all the value she’d already brought to the company, and that they would regret their decision to let her go.

        She was let go on a Wednesday, after, the Friday before, she made a change to the email or web server or both (I’m fuzzy on the details, because it happened after I left that place, and also it was 1999), that she had been specifically told by boss and grandboss not to make; and left for the weekend. The servers crashed and no one could get hold of her (despite her being the company’s only sysadmin??!?!) Boss and grandboss were in the office for 36 hours straight over the weekend bringing the servers back up and undoing her changes. She came in on Monday as usual.

        I saw it coming back when grandboss came into the breakroom looking happy, and told us that they’d just found the perfect candidate (her). Then proceeded to explain to us that her experience consisted of 7 years working for her parents’ business starting immediately after finishing high school. No other education, no other jobs, no nothing, just seven years working for mom and dad. He thought she was perfect because “she looked nerdy” and “she said she had seven computers at home”. I tried to talk him down from that high, unsuccessfully. Wonder if it was the same coworker?

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Overhead at a bar one time in the 90s:
          guy asks another guy at the bar, “do you know anything about computers?”
          replies, “I seen that movie, The Net.”

          1. JustaTech*

            Back in 1999 I was in high school and taking a “computers” class where I was learning to program Java. I was about 3 months into the class when I stopped by my dad’s office for a ride home. Waiting for him I chatted with one of the younger associates and my computer class came up. “Oh, we should hire you!”
            I laughed “Oh no, I just started, and I’m still in school!” The associate repeated, completely serious, that they should hire me to do their computer programming.

            I noped out of that real hard (and ended up with a summer job writing for a website, but as the most junior person). The first Dot Com was wild.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Our CIO at a previous job was someone who’d taken computer classes in prison, where he’d spent 17 years for murdering a hitchhiker. Had initially gotten life, but got out early for good behavior. The computer classes he’d taken allowed his rich lawyer parents to pull some strings and have their friends hire him as the CIO.

              Meanwhile, I was a new immigrant in the US with a CS degree and four years experience from Home Country, being told that I needed to go to grad school, because my degree and experience “did not count” and no one would hire me with just those. Was instead hired as an entry-level dev. Was told by a fellow immigrant 20 years later that, “wow, they hired anyone off the street back then, didn’t they? I mean, they hired *you*”. Those were strange times indeed.

              1. Candi*

                (grumble grumble swear swear rant)

                If it’s equivalent, it should count! One of the happiest pieces of news I ever saw is that they were finally trying to figure out how to do foreign education equivalency and stuff.

    4. Mallory Janis Ian*

      All the stories republished today in Alison’s absence should be in a collection classified as Stories to Raise Your Eyebrows Right Off Your Head!

    5. Baska*

      I once had an employee (technically a contractor, but working on the premises and reporting to me) who somehow didn’t realize I was his boss. Despite the fact that I was the one giving him assignments, trouble-shooting his issues, helping him prioritize his tasks, etc. I think he thought my boss was his boss, despite the fact that my boss constantly deferred to me, and I only brought my boss in when there were big issues with this employee. (And, ooh boy, were there!) To this day, there are many things that I still scratch my head over regarding that employee, but the “I didn’t realize you were my boss!” after six months of working for me is probably the most head-scratching-est.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I wonder if that’s what was going on with a report that I had. I had spent weeks telling him things about his behavior that needed to change, and would change for a hot minute and then go back to doing the same things again. It finally escalated to me calling a formal meeting with him, with my boss there to observe and advise me as a new manager. He wasn’t going to say anything in the meeting but was going to go over it with me privately later. Well, my report challenged everything I said to him to the point where I finally turned to my boss and said, “I don’t know what else to say; do you have anything to add?” and what he had to add was to repeat and underscore what I had already said, but somehow that finally resonated with the report, when he heard it coming from the big boss? Annoying.

        1. KHB*

          That one sounds (unfortunately) like a case of “nothing’s worth taking seriously until it’s said by a man.”

        2. PhyllisB*

          This sounds just like my mother. I can tell her something or make a suggestion, and she blows me off. My sister or brother can tell her the exact same thing, and it’s Gospel!! I get so angry about that, and I have lambasted her a couple of times for it. She will be (sometimes) apologize, but the next time it’s the same darn thing.
          Now I use this to my advantage. If there is an issue that is really important, I just rope my brother in and get him to weigh in. I realize this is not work-related, but just as irritating!!

          1. Annony*

            I had to start doing the same thing with family. Now I either leave it alone or run it through another family member. I mostly leave it alone and then they wonder why we don’t have much of a relationship.

          2. AlexandrinaVictoria*

            My grandmother would only take advice from her son, so his three sisters would tell him what to do. :-) My mother always laughed at this, but as she got older, she did exactly the same thing with me and my brother.

            1. Effective Immediately*

              My mother is a nurse. My uncle (her brother) has never been gainfully employed for more than a year at any point in his life.

              My grandmother made him her healthcare proxy.

              That stuff is *deeply* ingrained.

          3. AKchic*

            My mother and grandmother (grandmother is now deceased) are conditioned to ignore any advice or facts presented by women. I am the only woman in the state besides my aunt (by marriage, married to an uncle who is middling at best). My mother will happily listen to my 12 year old son over me. It came to a head when we worked together and I finally told her that if she wanted to ignore me and screw up the job, that was her prerogative, but I would document it so I could cover my side (we were the only women on the job).

            My contract ended and we went back to not talking to each other.

            1. Candi*

              Okay, personally is bad enough, but in the workplace!?! That’s beyond conditioning and into stubbornness and refusing to adapt.

              Even dad, who has a bad habit of dismissing me but listening to my daughter (who he spoils rotten), knows to listen when I’m talking about a referral for his gardening job or my school schedule.

    6. many bells down*

      It’s not quite at this level, but I worked for an indoor playground place once and the manager was younger than most of us. I heard a lot of “ugh Mike is always telling me what to do and I hate it!” I was like… he’s the manager. That’s what he’s supposed to be doing.

    7. Lady Meyneth*

      Oh, people can be this clueless!

      When I started on my current job, my manager Sue had just been promoted. A coworker, Vivian, took great exception to being “passed over” for the management position. She wasn’t passed over: she never applied! She probably wouldn’t have been considered, since she was technically great but horrid with people, but she. never. applied. Anyway, at that point, Vivian stopped going to any meetings called by Sue and didn’t do any work assigned by her.

      Sue, being new to active management, was trying to make it work and being as accomodating as possible, so this lasted a few months. One day, Sue went by Vivian’s desk to ask about a project, and Vivian screamed that she wasn’t doing it. Then proceeded to (it must be said) throw a hissy fit in our open plan office, screaming about how Sue had no right to tell her what to do, she wouldn’t stand for the disrespect, everyone knew she’d slept her way into her promotion (I’m still confused about this one, Sue is pretty great), and the C-suite knew she, Vivian, was the best employee in the company and she could work on whatever she wanted and make it better.

      She was escorted out of the building less than an hour after that.

      1. Artemesia*

        I officially withdraw my disbelief. I have worked with some somewhat delusional co-workers, one of whom I protected for years from being fired, and even he was not this clueless — just had an inflated sense of his importance and the inability to understand that when management said ‘no’ after hearing you out that you needed to drop it. He screwed me over one too many times and I stopped actively protecting his job and he was fired within the year. But that guy was nowhere near as delusional as the examples in this thread.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I’m really curious why you went to that effort. Can you explain or would it give away too much identifying information?

          1. Artemesia*

            He did bring value to our programs and on one occasion his above and beyond work for us lead indirectly to a serious personal loss for him (vague as identifying) So in committees where his contract came up I defended him — then he undermined me several times and some of those egregious examples ARE uniquely identifying and so I just dropped the rope. I didn’t criticize him, I just stopped leaping in to defend him and those who wanted him gone had him gone.

      2. QueenoftheWorld*

        I have a coworker who did this! She was angry every time an internal opening was available and she didn’t get it. Except she NEVER APPLIED for the openings! EVER! She expected the top dogs to come to her and ask her if she wanted the job. So when the job would get filled she would become angry and throw fits at how other people were being promoted or hired from the outside over her. And she was serious!! The rest of us would shake our heads. It was useless to point out that you have to apply for the position. She didn’t feel she needed to.

        1. rl09*

          “She expected the top dogs to come to her and ask her if she wanted the job.”

          I actually have worked for companies that operated this way, unfortunately. They had a “talent management team” that would hand select people for jobs as they opened up within the company, and rarely posted any job openings to other applicants. Which meant that in order to get promotions or the most sought-after jobs, you needed someone on the TMT to like you. I am honestly not sure how they got away with that for so long, because it seems like it would be really easy to discriminate using that system.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Oh yeah, I’ve had a (now long departed) department head tell us, in an all-hands quarterly meeting, “we had a reorg, here’s the new org chart” and proceeded to show us a long list of senior devs newly promoted to manager. Every last one of them a man. There were no openings, no announcements, no way to apply, it was just like, one day out of the blue, all senior devs that were men became managers and the women senior devs did not. I never even wanted a management position and I was still angry.

            1. Artemesia*

              I know someone who worked in an org where that happened as well — the women who were actually the big producers somehow didn’t get promoted and the men, many of whom were fairly useless, did.

                1. Candi*

                  It’s what typically happens. Subtle, indirect disrespect can go on and on, but as long as the aggravation is low-grade a lot of people will put up with it for the paycheck, unless other factors intervene. Over the years AAM’s been up, you can see a lot of stories like that in the comments.

                  But show blatant disrespect, especially toward a group that historically has to function at >90% competency just to level the playing field, and everyone jumps as fast as they can line up new jobs.

          2. Lora*

            Same. Actually only found out I was working for one that operated that way because they got me mixed up with someone who had a similar name (different spelling) and she had gotten put on the management fast track, so I was getting half the emails about the various Big Fancy Manager meetings and special assignments that were intended for her. Up until then I had no idea that was how they worked, they intentionally kept it very opaque.

        2. Toasted Coconut*

          This is not relevant at all, but the situation reminds me of when my parents would watch Reality TV/Singing Contests and get upset when their favourite contestant/singer was either voted out, or did not make it onto the next round due to lack of popularity. Funnily enough, they never ever bothered to vote for the contestant either!!

      3. Birdie*

        A former team member and I were moved to a new (universally disliked) supervisor, and said team member told me that if he wasn’t happy with how things were going after a couple of weeks, he would refuse to report to the new supervisor and would insist on a different one. Fortunately he was a mostly rational person, so when I told him that was not an option if he wanted to keep his job, he actually listened. Not nearly as dramatic nor delusional as your coworker, but sometimes even reasonable people have bizarre expectations regarding work dynamics!

    8. Teapot Repair Technician*

      There’s no question that people really can be this obtuse.

      Could such an obtuse person write a letter that so artfully includes all the information we need to see what’s really going on while herself remaining cringingly unaware?

      Evidently yes, I guess.

      1. comityoferrors*

        The first time I read this letter I thought it might’ve been written by the manager, because it’s somehow simultaneously self-aware and totally unaware. OP doesn’t even try to hide her wrongdoing, it’s front and center.

        Now I have a direct report who is alarmingly like this. And I believe it. She sees the events unfolding exactly the same way I do, she is just convinced that she does no wrong and writes a narrative in her head to support that. If I give her feedback or redirect her, she responds with hostility – because I’m just being mean and passive-aggressive and not recognizing her efforts. No matter what. She’s responded this way to everyone else around her, too.

        In one very telling case, this direct report (Y) was shadowing a coworker (C). C was putting a heavy item on a cart and asked Y to hold the cart. Y did not hold the cart, and the weight of the object moved the cart and smacked C in the head. C reported this to me, telling me she was upset and snapped at Y because Y let go of the cart to listen to other coworkers talk nearby. Y told me the *exact same story*, including that she did not hold the cart and that she was distracted by other people nearby, but *she* was upset because C snapped at her. Both of them reported that the snapping was a quick “hey! pay attention!” which I don’t consider egregious in the situation. But Y was convinced that she was the wronged party and wanted me to scold C for it. When I responded that I could see why C would be frustrated and that it’s important to be aware and engaged in situations like that, she lectured me that she and C shouldn’t have to move heavy objects at all. Just…absolutely no accountability or willingness to see someone else’s perspective, because she is so thoroughly convinced she’s right.

        1. Sal*

          …can you fire Y? I feel like “good judgment” is enough of a job requirement in most jobs that just…being like this…should be enough to get you canned. People shouldn’t have to work with people like this, you know?

          1. Candi*

            I hope comityoferrors can after proper documentation, PIPing, and all that.

            Y has already proven that they’ll do what they want even if a colleague might (and did) come to harm (minor, but still harm), and they’ll take no accountability and therefore make no effort to change.

            Neon. Sign. Liability. just waiting to happen.

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        It’s the work equivalent of the fish story.
        She’s had enough practice retelling it to every friend and family member. It’s such a tight story, she has her husband about to call a lawyer.

          1. Candi*

            As an example:

            “Yeah, those fellers in the bucket are nice, but you should’ve seen this other one! It was over twice the size of these, and it fought at the line for an hour. I almost wrastled it into shore, was thisclose to scooping it in the net, when the sneaky old feller slipped the hook and escaped!”

            The fish gets bigger with every telling, the fight to catch it gets harder with every telling, and the fish gets sneakier with every telling.

            Also note if you’re using a proper fishhook in reasonably good condition, it’s very hard for the fish to “slip the hook” without tearing part of its own mouth out.

      3. hbc*

        Yeah, you just need someone who is locked on to One Core Belief, and you get all kinds of wild (often internally inconsistent) interpretations and feelings to make the events line up with that Belief. It doesn’t just come from incompetence–how many people with Imposter Syndrome do we see getting praise from management, exceeding goals, and obviously kicking butt?

        I had a guy who frustrated me endlessly until I figured out that he just thought he was the best, most valuable employee and any set of facts were going to fit into that framework. From literally one sentence to the next, he argued that pay should never be based on seniority (to get paid more than a guy in a parallel role) and then that he should always make more than his colleague because she came to the company after him.

          1. Candi*

            Imposter’s Syndrome seems to me to be the flipside of Dunning-Krueger. DK, you don’t know enough to know you don’t know, or you know just enough to think you know more than enough (you don’t). IS, you know so much you can see how much more you don’t know, and it’s easy to think you’ll never know enough.

    9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Actually I can kind of understand this line of thinking to some degree. Not really “what business does my manager have about this” but more that one’s job is for the company (and for the client in this case) rather than specifically for the manager. I can see that a genuinely held belief that LWs proposal was what’s right for the company/client and the manager is in the way of that, could lead to going around the manager in order to get the ‘right’ decision made.

      I can’t say I’ve ever acted exactly like the LW, but have been in many situations where what the immediate manager said was at odds with what was best for the company /bigger picture overall, due to a lack of strategic thinking or whatever, that it would be tempting to treat them as an obstacle to be gotten over.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        But as a brand-new employee, how could she know whether it’s for the best?

        I once went over my boss’s head to her boss. As part of a group. To let grandboss know that boss’s behavior was going to keep us from meeting contractual obligations with the federal government. We laid everything out & knew we were doing something very serious. But we also knew that we’d all get thrown under the bus by our boss once we failed to meet obligations.

        Our boss was removed from her position not long afterwards.

        1. Despachito*

          I was just thinking that the only reason to go above the boss’s head would be something really atrocious/susceptible to tank the entire company, just as you are describing.

          The difference is, you were fully aware of the seriousness of the matter, AND you did not withhold from the grandboss the information of what your boss said or did.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Nope. But I could totally see my former boss writing a letter like this one. Except she’d do a better job with the spin.

      2. Despachito*

        I can see your point.

        But even if the subordinate’s solution was indeed flagrantly better from the point of view of the entire company, it is still the manager who is responsible for the outcome, so it’s her/him who has the final say, and if it is a”no”, so be it. After all, if it fails, it is the manager, not the employee, who will take the brunt of failure.

        1. alienor*

          Well, yes and no. I’ve definitely experienced situations where I and/or other team members knew something was a bad idea, and said so. The manager decided to do it anyway, and when the totally predictable failure happened, threw us under the bus before you could blink. (The OP here was still in the wrong, though.)

      3. Lawyer*

        This was a high quality and thoughtful response. When I read it I also thought about how in cop shows we idealize this sort of behavior – “I know best, the mission is what matters, my supervisors are incompetent obstacles, career blowback is proof I’m the hero” – but every commentator focused on how the LW is organizational poison. They are right but LW’s point of view has some justification if success on that project is more important than organizational harmony (which, unless it’s NASA sending astronauts to space or something, it almost certainly isn’t).

      4. Sometimes supervisor*

        Agreed. I’ve been in Betty-ish situations on a number of occasions – all less extreme though. We’re not in third sector but, for the sake of anonymity, let’s say it’s something adjacent so there’s a lot of arguing about work being worthy and important.

        The way I see it is that the people I supervise look after the trees and I look after the forest – and some people DO NOT get this! Think lots of arguing about how very, very important something is and me desperately trying to explain that it’s not that I disagree with them but there’s no budget for new work right now/the person they’re proposing we work with is knowingly untrustworthy/somebody else in the company is working on something very similar right now/it would involve input from a team who are swamped at the moment/grandboss has decided he’s not interested so I’m not really the one they have to convince….the list goes on.

        Most people will be disappointed but get that there must be some ‘bigger picture’ when the answer is ‘sorry, not today’. I also try to be transparent when I can (so, for example, if the reason is there’s no budget for the project right now and there’s no reason I can’t tell them this, I’ll tell them). But I do have a stack of emails along the lines of ‘You’ve rejected my project. I know you may not understand how important the issues I’m raising are here so let me spell it out to you in a way that insults your intelligence’ and (after refusing to answer basic questions asking for more information) ‘I can’t believe it’s taking you so long to make a decision on this – you really are quite incompetent’.

      5. Candi*

        Some of the comments on the original letter pointed out that the client may have extremely specific requirements, or need to authorize any changes, or only want specific people working on their stuff. In such cases, what’s right for the client must be approved by the client before it can be put in the project, no matter how great it is.

        What LW specifically told Veronica wasn’t a complete layout of the situation, according to what they wrote in the letter. A complete layout, pros and cons, are absolutely necessary if you’re going to try and get grandboss to override the boss on a project or other matter. Prove why it needs to be done, why it’s good for the client, company, or both. Playing sneaky mom-dad is likely to lead to outright rejection of the idea because of how it was done, regardless of its merit.

        There’s the problem LW explicitly launched the project before Betty came back, which should never have been done without the client’s authorization. That’s not bypassing the boss, that’s making the whole company look bad, negating any goodwill that might have been earned by making useful changes.

    10. BRR*

      I don’t mean this sarcastically at all, it’s great that you can’t imagine a workplace situation where the complainer is this obtuse. I’ve worked with a few people who could be this disconnected from reality.

    11. CRM*

      Speaking from personal experience: I totally believe someone could be that obtuse. I also lacked a lot of professional self-awareness when I first started working. Granted, I wasn’t ever quite this bad (and it was mostly due to my inexperience), but I admit that I was embarrassingly self-righteous at times and it took a couple of years before I finally understood “oh wait, maybe a 22 year old doesn’t actually know anything at all and mistakes really matter”. It sounds like OP was out of the workforce for a while, so it’s possible that they rarely encountered any situations where their perspective and/or authority was challenged, which would have made things a lot worse. Hopefully they came around eventually and found gainful employment!

    12. Captain Janeway*

      My one and only direct report from my last job was absolutely this obtuse. I ultimately had to fire him for attendance issues and his attitude of thinking I had no business directing/overseeing his work. I found out afterward that he had complained to HR about me a couple times for my ‘attitude’ (i.e. coaching him on technical mistakes, following procedures/department boundaries, etc.). HR had never said anything to me so I assume they found the claims without merit. After I fired him he called a senior manager he was friendly with and asked her to scold me and intervene with me and HR to get us to rescind his firing. He did not get his job back.

    13. Qwerty*

      I’ve managed people like this. Usually men who had trouble with a female manager. Including a guy who refused to attend meetings with me and said there was no reason for me to know what days he was working (would just take PTO and not tell me, or switch to a WFH schedule when our company policy didn’t allow it). Literally was told that I had to show him the part of our handbook that said he had to interact with his manager.

      1. Despachito*

        What the… what did you do?

        (I sincerely hope the next thing he saw was a hand grabbing his collar and kicking his a.. out of there).

        1. Qwerty*

          For a while HR blocked me from doing anything. After a few months they finally let me start the disciplinary procedure, at which point I found out that my grandboss had promoted the guy, because they had talked a couple times and felt the guy had been brought in at the wrong level. While excluding me from the review process.

          HR rep was ticked, my boss was ticked, I was furious. That company typically thought guys struggling with working with women needed compassion because men aren’t used to not being the majority or having to report to women. (obviously I’m not there anymore)

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            “That company typically thought guys struggling with working with women needed compassion because men aren’t used to not being the majority or having to report to women.”

            … …
            … … …

            You have broken my brain. I give up.

          2. Candi*

            There are times I really wish we could break the anonymity code around here… I never, ever want to apply there.

            Of course, they probably wouldn’t hire a woman soon-to-be-IT anyway.

          3. Despachito*

            Oh what the … I am struggling for words. Absolutely nightmarish.

            And I think the HR and your boss are by far not off the hook – why on earth did they block you FOR MONTHS and let this jerk get away with his behaviour? And the grandboss PROMOTING him… oh please NO.

            The last paragraph makes my blood boil and steam going off my ears. I do sincerely hope that this company did not survive for long.

    14. Anonymeece*

      I had an employee tell me I was being “petty” because she told me she was too busy to take on something that afternoon and then left two hours early without telling me, and I found out and asked her to explain. I was her manager. But apparently me not liking people ducking work, leaving two hours early without telling me, and then lying to me about it is “petty”.

      There really are people this clueless.

    15. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      “telling the MANAGER they have no business telling you what to do on the account — really?”

      I had a coworker like this. They had been a team of one for a several years and took serious issues when the team expanded and suddenly had a manager providing day-to-day oversight. That coworker was pretty terrible at key parts of their job:

      They dropped the ball on a huge project they were supposed to have been working on for about 18 months, then blamed everyone else.

      I think maybe they just didn’t do any work on that project for 18 months? It was…odd.

    16. Medusa*

      There’ve been plenty of people featured on AAM with an amount of obtusesness equal to or greater than this LW!
      I don’t know if I would have gone straight to firing without reprimanding them and giving them a chance to apologize and change their behaviour, but I definitely agree that LW was in the wrong.

    17. Marie*

      I’ve dealt with several situations like this. I’m at a company where we have an “open door” policy up to teh CEO, and it is a BIG company. The reasoning is that sometimes great ideas come from line level employees.

      But it results in a lot of situations like this. Junior/new employee thinks they have a brilliant idea. It usually is a good idea, but we can’t/won’t implement it right now for complicated factors the employee doesn’t know or understand. Employee asks their boss, boss says no. Employee then starts working up the chain with their proposal eventually getting to someone high enough up that they don’t have any context who says something non-commital like “that sounds like an interesting idea” or “I’m impressed with this proposal”. Employee sees it as validation of their plan, starts working on it, and then direct manager has to clean up the resulting mess.

      It has happened at least once a year since I started on my current team. There’s a specific type of personality that seems to be especially prone to it. And it is a giant pain.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      This is a picture-perfect example of OP F***ed Around and Found Out. I feel like the lawyer would say the same thing.

  2. Patrick*

    Unbelievable. OP seriously needs a big wake up call or they’re going to have major issues in their career.

  3. Jean*

    There’s initiative, and then there’s naked, ethically questionable ambition. Should have stayed in your lane.

    1. Stitch*

      One time a legal assistant went into one of my files and “fixed” a bunch of stuff. She made changes to the file that literally I could not do without consulting the client contact and judge and she was plain wrong. It took ages to dig out her “fixes”.

      1. CatHatLady*

        That happens all the time in my world. People who have no clue what they are doing try to take initiative and end up making more work for me in the end. What’s even WORSE is that my manager thinks these people are “rock stars”.

        1. Anonymeece*

          There’s the four quadrants chart of “Competent/Incompetent” for the columns and “Motivated/Lazy” for the rows. The best combo is motivated/competent, but the absolute worst is not Incompetent/Lazy but Motivated/Incompetent.

          1. Nicholas Kiddle*

            There’s a bit in Arthur Ransome where a boy’s pet monkey imitates what he’s seen the boy doing to the boat engine, which leads to it being choked with oil and not working. The boy says “you can’t blame Gibber. He did his best and tried very hard,” to which the adult says “in monkeys, laziness is a virtue.”

          2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I was Motivated/Incompetent in my younger days. Thankfully, I had a gentle boss to walk me through where my train of thought left its rails. It’s not something that’s impossible to come back from… assuming one is still motivated.

      2. JustaTech*

        There are some industries where “ask forgiveness not permission” really doesn’t work. Or at least, it only works if you really, deeply understand the *why* behind all of the rules.

        I work in a heavily regulated industry and I’m kind of concerned that we’re going to give a training on “being a self-starter” to a group of employees who’s entire job is about following instructions exactly, to the tiniest detail, and failing to do so can only result in lots of bad, possibly dangerous, things.

  4. Charlotte Lucas*

    I’d be interested in an update on this. Did the OP learn from this experience? Did she ever find another job?

      1. Morticia*

        I know the origin says 5 years off for raising kids, so it’s probably just the choice of Betty and Veronica, and me not picturing anyone self-identifying as Ethel.

        1. Joelle*

          Also mentioned a husband. So it’s possible this is a queer dude or a non-binary person, but the assumption of she is not off-base here.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I’m leaning towards Ethel/Cheryl, because of the five years off with the kids being something more characteristic of a traditional family. And sadly, I don’t think it’s uncommon for a woman, with traditional upbringing, to assume that their female boss must by default know nothing and needs to be put in her place. Same with OP trying to pull a fast one on Veronica.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          I’ve also run into female coworkers who thought I couldn’t possibly understand anything at an adult level because I’m single and childless (I’m a woman). Apparently we’re all children until we grab a man and pop out some kids, no matter how old we are or how much education or work experience we have.

          I expect them to have slightly different priorities than I do, yes, but I’m reasonably sure I’m not completely out of touch with reality, thanks.

      2. Zephy*

        Alison also defaults to feminine pronouns whenever it’s unclear or to refer to a hypothetical third person, that’s just a convention of her writing that has spread to the commentariat.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Ha. I was commenting on the same thing while you were.
      “we will discuss further” is not passive, nor it is aggressive. It is asserting a boundary. We are having a meeting and you will be heard then.

    2. I can never decide on a lasting name*

      I love it when letter writers say “needless to say”. It’s as good as “long story short” and “as a side note” from earlier today.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Especially when it was in fact *very* needful to say, since no reasonable person would have that reaction lol

      2. Frank Doyle*

        Oh man, I thought the exact same thing! Whenever someone writes “needless to say,” I think “oh no, there was every need for you to say this thing, because it is Wrong, and no one else was going to come to this conclusion otherwise.”

    3. Ray Gillette*

      Seems like one of those cases of “I don’t know what this means, but it’s generally used in a negative connotation, so I’m going to use it here to express my displeasure.”

      See also: postmodernist, Communist

    4. Teapot Repair Technician*

      If there was list of the Internet’s most often misapplied terms, “passive-aggressive” would be near the top.

      1. Not passive just aggressive*

        I’ve never understood why leaving notes is almost always considered “passive agressive” by some. No doubt the wording of a note can be passive aggressive (especially if it’s directed to a specific person but the note writer is too afraid of direct confrontation and so is leaving room for the possibility of saying “I didn’t say that” without technically lying), but the note itself is just a medium.

        Myself, I don’t really care about a whole lot of things at work, which some have choose to interpret as a sign of passive aggression. Which is so odd, because my face is also very expressive and if I actually am irritated by something everyone around me will definitely know it.

        1. Ray Gillette*

          Especially when it’s a general note in a public place, like a note over a sink asking people to wash their own coffee mugs. Unless you’ve memorized everyone’s mug (and everyone only has one mug and never changes it up), there’s no way to know who’s washing and who isn’t.

          1. Teapot Repair Technician*

            “Dear office. It’s OK that you couldn’t remember to wash your mug. I did it for you. You’re welcome.”

        2. foolofgrace*

          Once upon a time at the law firm I worked at in word processing, I had an inept supervisor, but nobody seemed to notice that and it was making my life a misery. So… I wrote a memo to the powers that be with my concerns/complaints and *left a copy on the chair of every attorney in the department.* I fully expected to get fired so, shaking with fear and rage, I began to pack up my desk (should always do that first, I’ve learned). When I was summoned to my grandboss’s office, I was surprised to be taken seriously, to describe the egregious offenses of my supervisor, and she was shortly demoted. I later ended up with her job. But what an idiot I was. I have since learned that “supervisor” has no firing powers, unlike “manager”.

          1. Vanilla Bean*

            Titles and the power that goes with them vary greatly by company. My company uses “supervisor” as “inexperienced manager.” Supervisors have the same authority to fire that managers do here, but they’re more likely to need and get extra support from HR and senior managers through it, because chances are they have not done it before.

    5. Environmental Compliance*

      It really made me think of the “can’t we fire them??” “Not without cause…” “We have cause, it’s be…..cause I don’t like them!” from TikTok.

  5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    I’ll never get over describing Betty’s request to meet and “discuss this further on Monday” as passive aggressive.
    What else should that email have included?
    Did she expect her manager to rant and rave in an email?

    1. De Minimis*

      Maybe it’s because it was on Monday. If they’d discussed it on Tuesday she would have been fine with it.

      1. Llama face!*

        Nah, the manager should have said she’d confront her by Wednesday of this week. I hear that’s the way to do it AAM style.

    2. EPLawyer*

      She expected her boss to say “Yeah I screwed up by sabotaging your work, i am so sorry it will never happen again.” What she GOT was an email saying “We will talk.” So she AssUMed that meant she was trying to fudge the apology instead of fessing up to her dastardly ways.

      I literally cannot fathom walking into a meeting with my boss and big boss and telling boss they were wrong wrong wrong and expecting it to go well. Even if boss is wrong, there are ways to do it without saying stay out of my business.

      1. Nea*

        LW is the one who brought grandboss Veronica in – I think in the mistaken belief that Veronica would tell Betty “LW is my new favorite.”

      2. Anony Mouse*

        Mmm. I think at this point she knew she’d done something that would be perceived as wrong, and she had all weekend to stress about it. So she did see the email as “why not deal with it now and get it over with?” but also, she had two days to build up a head of defensiveness and self-righteousness…

        The delay (reasonable though it is to pick something up after the weekend!) is maybe the one thing I have some sympathy with. I once had a boss, when I was fairly young and inexperienced, who would drop “We’ll talk about this,” emails regularly just before going out of office for several days. Whereupon I would sit and stew and worry about the outcome. I wasn’t a great employee back then. But I knew perfectly well when my boss wasn’t happy with me…

    3. JB*

      Yup. To some people, the moment they sense conflict, any message short of ‘screw you and the horse you rode in on’ or ‘meet me in the overflow parking lot at 6 and let’s settle this once and for all’ is passive-aggressive.

  6. Carol the happy elf*

    This person is accustomed to ordering small children to pick up toys.
    Organizing a home, working a schedule and living within a tight budget is WORK. IT is essential work, and it’s very, very hard, neverending and mostly thankless.

    However, going to my neighbor’s house, moving her furniture, giving her toddler a bath, and changing his bedtime while I’m babysitting-
    Almost creepy in the entitlement and arrogance.
    She went from having a 2-division workplace, with co-owners (hopefully!) where one travels to an office and one has the headquarters and very inexperienced young workers (toddlers and preschoolers after at least a year of OJT in “person” training)
    She got an outside job she wasn’t fully qualified for, did pretty well, then tried to become the “Queen Bee” while the actual manager had her back turned. (I wonder what stress Betty Manager felt when “Rudith” started being sneaky and disrespectful even before that much-needed vacation!)
    This was in 2016; I hope that Rudith has actually learned from her glaring mistakes and can actually fit in a workplace these days.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      The actual manager didn’t even have her back turned! She just wasn’t, apparently, as hand-holdy as the LW wanted her to be.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        I think Rudith wanted “back-patty” instead of just hand-holdy, but you’re right.

        When my kids were young, they tried that stunt, but we outsmarted them; we’d say, not “what did Dad say?” but “I think you need to go ask Dad”.
        He would counter with, “I’m sure you need to ask your Mother about that.”
        Making them run back and forth, like a cat chasing a laser pointer. It taught them some lessons good for later life, I think.

        Managers truly need to communicate with other managers and upper echelons, so this kind of crap can be shut down completely, and if OP doesn’t get the memo, it’s firing time.

      2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        Betty was on vacation and not around to see what LW was up to. That clearly qualifies as having her back turned.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          “My manager (let’s call her Betty) wasn’t very involved with my training at all, always claiming she had tons of work to do. Instead, she gave me lists of resources (training manuals, online certification classes, etc.) to go through, checked in with me maybe once a day, and assigned me a “starter project” so that I could “learn on the job.” ”

          I was referring to this. The LW seems to think her manager neglected her even though this seems like a pretty normal and attentive introduction to a job. Checking on once a day is not abandoning a trainee in the wilderness. Once your employee has been on the job for awhile you should be able to go on vacation without being accused of “having your back turned”.

    2. MissBaudelaire*

      What really gets me is this not the first time I’ve seen someone try to usurp the throne of Queen Bee when the reigning queen is on a vacation. I didn’t realize it could maybe be like, a thing that happens.

      1. PT*

        This happened all. The. Time. Where I used to work. I called it empire building.

        It was actually easier to not go on vacation, than it was to go on vacation and come back to see that the Teapot Director had come traipsing through the Llama Department and written up all the Llama Groomers for various violations and now they’re all suspended (“well I was just trying to help since you weren’t around to supervise them”), and also they reorganized the whole barn, and you have to work a 60 hour week covering the grooming appointments yourself on top of your regular job, while begging the Groomers to not quit, and contacting the veterinarian to make sure the reorganized barn didn’t result in a llama eating the wrong feed for a week and getting sick, and now that’s a big bill throwing budget off you have to answer for.

        1. Candi*

          My primary thought is how the heck did the Teapot Director have that kind of authority in the first place, for any of that to stick. Since you the Head Groomer, were out, the Llama Director should’ve been keeping the Teapots out of the barn.

          Which gives me the indirect impression the Llama Director was not good at their job.

  7. Health Insurance Nerd*

    You’d think at this point in my life I’d no longer be surprised by the amount of self-delusion some people have, but nope. I’d love to have seen an update on this one where the LW tried to sue and was unceremoniously shot down by a judge.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      That assumes that the OP was even able to find an employment lawyer willing to take their case. It seemed pretty clear there wasn’t really anything to sue based on in this instance.

  8. Hills to Die on*

    Fantastically embarrassing! I would have loved an update for this one but the OP was clearly under the assumption that Alison would see it her way. I am sure they were shocked and upset when they read the response. Hope they’ve been able to see more clearly since then.

    1. Van Wilder*

      How long does it take you to regret behavior you were sure was correct early in your career? It only took me a couple years to be ashamed of my behavior at my last job. Maybe OP is ready to talk about it now.

      1. JB*

        Just because they regret it doesn’t mean they’re ready to talk about it. If they have come to understand the error of their ways, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were too embarrassed to talk about it, especially in a venue as public as AAM.

    1. MistOrMister*

      Same here!!! I remember reading this story ages ago but it didn’t have as much of a impact on me the first time around, apparently. Maybe i was new to AAM. I dunno. But, boy, it was hard to read! Every step of the way I was yelling in my head like at a horror movie…”Nooooo, OP, don’t have that convo with Veronica!!! Oh no, she did it. Oh gods, she’s yelling at Betty in a meeting! The horror!!”

      This actually kind of gave me vibes like that recent letter from the business owner who wanted to fire their long time employee when the new employee who helped them in their personal life demanded it, if we were hearing from the new employee in that situation.

  9. Littorally*

    Man, I really wanna know what kind of training the OP expected when getting hired by such a small business! When you’ve only got 20 people total, you don’t get to have your manager handholding your every move while you learn. Daily checkins and loads of resources are pretty good support!

    1. Mental Lentil*

      At least twice, I have ushered people out the door who made major mistakes and claimed that they were never properly trained.

      Oh, but you were trained! You just chose to not pay attention because you assumed you knew everything already.

      1. CreepyPaper*

        Oh, this.

        It’s even better when you have the training log that THEY SIGNED to confirm that they’ve received the training they claim to have not had.

      2. Ray Gillette*

        I had someone like this, though in his case he was technically correct that we hadn’t given him a lot of training… but we’d told him upfront that this position needed someone who could work independently and self-teach. There was ample downtime for him to study the available resources and we were happy to answer any specific questions that couldn’t be answered by the resources, but funnily enough he never had questions.

    2. londonedit*

      Yes, I’d really like to know what sort of training they were expecting! Every time I’ve started a new job I’ve been shown where things are (both physically and on servers etc) and given a run-down of the basic schedules and procedures, but then it’s basically been ‘…so off you go, ask if you’re not sure about anything’. People have their own jobs to do and in my experience you’re expected to get up to speed fairly quickly in a new job, unless it’s an internship or it’s something entry-level where you’d be expected to need a bit more training. The OP had proven they could do the work with these one-off assignments, they’re a grown adult, they seemed to throw themselves into checking out the resources they were given, Betty was checking in on them every day. I’m not sure what else the OP would have been expecting!

      1. Artemesia*

        At 22 I was hired to teach American Government, World History, American HIstory in a high school. I was handed text books and told I could use them if I wished. Everything else in that curriculum I created from scratch with no guidance whatsoever. Seemed normal to me.

      2. JB*

        Agreed. I recently started a very new position and my manager mostly pointed me towards resources and made himself available for questions, and then left me to my own devices, with weekly check-ins. Daily would have been more often than I needed! There’s no need for him to stand over me and walk me through my job step-by-step when there are examples and procedured I can read.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      The training she got was the exact training I’ve gotten everywhere I worked (both large and small companies), and honestly the training I myself have given to new hires in the past. Did she expect to sit through weeks of being lectured at in a training room? (something I also had at larger companies, and found far less efficient than hands-on learning on the job with daily checkins and resources provided.) Certainly nowhere near ” I never received proper training”, geez!

      1. Stitch*

        I do work at a place where we sit people down in a classroom and train them for 6 weeks. But we area government organization with thousands of employees and hire people 50 at a time.

        1. Zephy*

          I had a job right after college that started with six weeks of big-group-lecture-style training, full-time, before they let us start doing actual work.

          But it was with City Year, an AmeriCorps program that exclusively employs people ages 18 to 26 in the role I had, so if they had any work experience prior to then it was probably retail or foodservice. And were also young enough to plausibly not know better.

      2. Miss Muffet*

        I mean, maybe some shadowing or a peer sitting with her while she does something the first time would have been a part of the plan if I was the manager? But in any case, after the training, she seemed to have a pretty notable success, so going back to that after the “tiff” seems to be just a way to dredge up old arguments. Bet she’s a peach to be married to, if that’s how she rolls.

        1. Candi*

          My guess is that since she did well on the freelance jobs, they figured she didn’t need that oversight a more green employee would need.

          I know that if I commissioned someone to create a presentation for me, and they handed me a high-quality product that met all the criteria and was well-crafted, and then I hired them, I wouldn’t think I needed to oversee them for every little thing, especially related tasks. They would need training in how Our Company does things and whatnot, but half of that is reading stuff anyway.

    4. Lady Ann*

      I wondered this too! It sounded like pretty thorough training to me if she was given resources and a daily check in!

      We once had someone get fired for saying something incredibly rude to a client. She claimed she wasn’t properly trained because her immediate supervisor was out on leave during her training. But me and another supervisor both checked in with her daily (one of us would sit with her in the morning for a bit and one in the afternoon). I spent at least 45 mins with her each day and I assume the other supervisor did the same. I always wondered what she expected.

    5. Tuesday*

      It’s also really something that the LW is saying essentially, “I wasn’t properly trained” and “I can do this better than my manager can” all at the same time.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Yikesaroni and cheese, I didn’t even realize that until you said.

        “I wasn’t properly trained, therefore I can’t be held responsible.” and also “Betty sucks and I know how to do her job better than her, therefore I can’t be held responsible.”

    6. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      That honestly blew my mind having been given almost exactly the same training in a Nation-wide, hundreds of thousands of employees company.

    7. Candi*

      I dunno what they were thinking. I’d have loved that much training at any of my jobs.

      At one seasonal job, I got maybe 15 minutes of training.

      This was back in the days of mostly film cameras. Phones were mostly expensive flip cells with bad cameras, when they had them; pagers were still widely popular in my area. So if people wanted holiday mugs or calendars or whatever, they mailed the physical pictures into the company I was at and had them custom made.

      Due to computer classes in high school and college, I got stuck with a computer and the big industrial printer it talked to, one of six for making custom calendars.

      By the time I was there two weeks, I’d figured out things about the software permanent workers didn’t know. At four weeks, I was training people. (We had hecka turnover, fast-paced, go-go-go, lots of physical work, and the printers jammed a lot. People didn’t want to take it and said they’d find another holiday job. [Pauses for audience laughter].) I worked there a total of seven weeks and got a stellar reference.

  10. Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional*

    I have known people like this. They deliver their wounded victim message so passionately that those around them buy into their victimhood, their spouses and friends. Those that try and point out this person’s mistakes or let’s say contributions to the situation, are not friends with these people for very long. That is why everyone around her supports her delusional viewpoint, and these enablers unfortunately prevent her from personal growth in learning to perspective take. I also think that in having to write this out she wanted to capture all the things that went down, while trying to spin them her way. I don’t think she gets it. Until she is able to genuinely understand how to maturely take other people’s points of views, this situation will repeat in her life, in all her relationships, professional and personal.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Yeah somehow I don’t think OP told hubby or her friends the FULL story. Like how she had been told no on a project. Because I can’t see someone who works in any business going “oh you’re manager said no, then you were TOTALLY right to go around them to the big boss.” Well okay, I’ve read this site for awhile, I guess ALL of OPs friends have the same ideas of GUMPTION as she does. Which is why they are friends.

      Hubby may want her to talk to a lawyer in the hope a lawyer will laugh in her face and say “what did you expect when you told your manager they could not monitor your work?” Because he knows arguing with her is useless and he wants a quiet home.

      1. LC*

        Yeah, I’m so curious what grounds her Husband thinks are at play here. Certainly OP didn’t give him the full story, but what story could she have given him that would have made him think that she should get a lawyer involved?

        Even telling the story herself, (presumably) trying to show herself in the best light, I can’t fathom what anyone thinks a lawyer would do for her.

      2. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

        Or she ranted for hours to him and somewhere in there said, “Should I get a lawyer?” And he said, “Sure whatever”, and now in her head her husband totally supports her and thinks she should sue.

      3. Artemesia*

        I have known a fair number of entry level people who go to unemployed relatives for feedback on experiences they have at work. So you get people who say ‘they can’t do you like that — don’t let them boss you like that’ — when the ‘they’ happen to be the bosses. The whole concept of ‘the boss tells you what to do’ is often foreign to people with chips on their shoulders and who also don’t work.

    2. AKchic*

      If there are any friends who recognize her patterns, they don’t bring it up to her. They talk about it behind her back. They discuss it amongst themselves and with her former friends, poking holes in her stories, laughing about the inconsistencies and try to predict what new drama or calamity will befall the “poor heroine” next.

      There are a few who stay friends because they genuinely like her, and have the same traits/tendencies. A few stick around on the fringes like viewers of a train wreck. Confronting the drama will do no good because it only feeds the drama llama and allows her to play the perpetual victim.

  11. Wolfie*

    I’m enjoying these older posts since I only discovered this blog a year ago.

    Man, what a great letter and response! I was eating all the popcorn.

          1. Anony Mouse*

            Yes. They are a snare and a temptation for the slightly dopamine-starved among us, in which category I put myself. Fascinating content, so much of it, so easy to go from link to link!

            Oh well, back to work…

  12. ArtsyGirl*

    Poor Betty gets back from vacation, finds her subordinate has mucked around with an account despite explicit direction not to do so, and then has to spend her whole weekend returning it to its origional form only to have the subordinate act aggressively towards her in a meeting. OP, if one of your kids asked you for something and you said no and then they went behind your back and asked your partner who said yes – how do you handle it? This is what you did to Betty on a massive scale. Of course you got fired. You were insubordinate, undermined her, and then acted out in a meeting.

      1. Candi*

        One of the comments on the original post said that in Betty’s positions, they’d have been fascinated watching LW dig their own grave without Betty having to say a thing. They wouldn’t even be mad by that point.

    1. First time listener, long time caller*

      No, you misunderstand. OP is the victim in both situations. In this one, her boss victimized her by not going along with everything she wanted. Same with her kids. Isn’t it obvious?

  13. JohannaCabal*

    This is one letter I’ve always wanted to see with an update. I really hope the LW took Alison’s advice to heart. She should’ve taken this as a learning lesson and applied for a new job minus this position on her resume. The company even classified it as a layoff! Wish the company that fired me had done that!

    Of course, with her and her husband considering legal action, I can see that company deciding to be tightlipped to reference checkers though.

    1. Candi*

      It was pointed out in the comments of the original post that it wouldn’t even look weird to leave it off. Since the LOW had taken time off to raise their kids, leaving it off would just make it look they raised their kids for sixth months longer.

  14. RunShaker*

    I worked with some one similar to this….she would seek guidance and how to handle work item but wouldn’t provide the full context & then use your answer to throw you under the bus. She would get snippy & argue with management. Unfortunately, our management team refused to put her on a PIP or correct the behavior. Management responded in negative way to slow push her out & she ended up quitting. She moved into similar field after she quit & I guess it didn’t work out. Saw on social media recently that she has switched to different field. If this LW didn’t correct her behavior, she’ll bounce round for a while & struggle like my ex-coworker.

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      A friend of mine likes to ask for advice but hold a piece of information back as a “Gotcha!” or something. So I’ll give advice and he’s like, “BUT what if THIS also happened?!” I finally lost it and refuse to give any kind of advice unless he promises he’s giving me every piece of relevant information.

      If I can’t handle that in a friend that I already know and like, having that in a coworker? In somebody I manage? Oh I would not have the patience for it if I were Veronica.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        I hate that. I’ve seen it done when people really, really, REALLY just want the advice to be ‘be a jerk’ or ‘everyone else is a jerk and you’re a saint, let me polish your halo’.

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          Yeah, I basically told him I am tired of taking the time to think through a response to what is usually a challenging and emotional situation only to have the rug pulled out from under me and the emotional calculus changed completely. (I definitely yelled at him and hung up on him, the rest is kind of hazy.) Now when he starts to ask something like that I ask if I have all the details, and if he changes the information after I answer I basically say, “Nope, f*** that, we’ve talked about this. I’m done,” and hang up.

          It’s very much because he thinks whatever the “twist” is is funny or enraging but it just pisses me off.

    2. Stitch*

      I had a mentee like this once. He’d poll people on what they’d do without full context and then use it as a cudgel.

      Spoiler alert: he didn’t work out. I’m kind of the Mr. Bubbles mentor (I’m the person they call when things go wrong and to my credit I’ve salvaged mentees who were struggling) so by the time I had him he was already on thing ice and I was his last chance.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        My dad had that situation with a salesman in the company they both worked for. Dad was one of the best engineers from a troubleshooting standpoint at the company – and respected in those circles for his experience. The thought was if my dad (with 30+ years experience at that point) couldn’t get this guy to see reason, then we really don’t need this salesman anymore.

        Salesman got his walking papers within three months because he tried to violate a whole bunch of bribery laws and dad reported him – as the attempt was in process.

      2. Alexander Graham Yell*

        Just noticed your user name and giggled picturing Stitch with Cobra Bubbles tattoos, so thanks for that!

  15. Nea*

    Have to admit, this is a personal favorite. It’s so nice to see someone’s power plays come to naught.

    The follow up letter I’d love to see isn’t from LW, it would be to get Betty or Veronica’s take on the situation.

    1. Littorally*

      Agreed. I’d desperately like more detail on what exactly they were doing that the LW mucked around with so bad. Give me an industry at least!

      1. Candi*

        I thought it might have something to do with websites or similar. LW admits to “launching” the project (without permission from boss or client), but Betty was able to unlaunch it once she got back.

        Which, holy cow, if that’s it you know how protective clients are of their websites. Even if it looks awful, unless they can talk them out of it, the contracted website creator(s) does what the client wants!

    2. GrooveBat*

      This is one of my favorites. My other favorite, which has a similar vibe, is the newbie who lied her way into a conference she had been told to not attend and couldn’t understand why she got fired because of it.

      1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

        That’s precisely the one that I was also reminded of. Just a whole lot of Gumption Gone Wrong and the OP’s left utterly bewildered wondering why on earth everyone was angry at them and they were shown the door. It’s like they truly believe that Gumption (TM) should never have negative consequences, because they were only “showing initiative” (and never mind that they trampled many “No”s and established rules in the process)

        1. Candi*

          The conference one didn’t just trample, they took advantage of helping someone who was 1) injured 2) had a lot of work to do besides setting things up for the conference to sneak their name on the list. It personally bothered me she didn’t at least acknowledge that part as stepping over a line, but no, she had to show “initiative”.

  16. specialk*

    This looks like one of those letters you see here often, where the letter doesn’t really seek advice; she just wants her position validated and her actions praised. Likely she will blow of Allison’s response as “she doesn’t understand”. Many of these people lack the ability for self-reflection

    1. KHB*

      There used to be a fantastic Tumblr called something like “here’s that bad advice you were looking for,” that would collect letters like this from all sorts of advice columns and write hilarious, sarcastic alternative answers telling the letter writers just what they wanted to hear. They tackled a few AAM letters over the years.

        1. Tiffany Aching's imaginary friend*

          I just read a fresh one this morning! (Commenting on an Ask Amy letter from January of this year.)

    2. Lisa B*

      Love to imagine that person reading through the comments as they come flying in….

      “These hundreds of other people don’t get it EITHER!!!”

      1. Despachito*

        Radio: “Urgent warning: There is one driver on Highway 25 driving in the opposite direction!”
        Driver: “One? All of them!”

  17. Detective Amy Santiago*

    This is not the letter I was expecting based on the title. I definitely missed this one the first time around. Damn.

    The one I was thinking of was “I got fired for attending a conference that I wasn’t invited to”.

  18. Quickbeam*

    It’s like a fast moving car accident. As you read you can se it coming but nope, no way to avoid the *harumph* of the self righteous!

  19. gyrfalcon17*

    I remember reading this before, browsing the archives when I first started reading AAM. Of course I agreed with Alison’s advice, but nothing seemed completely horrible to me, except for thinking OP was wrongly putting Betty’s actions in the worst possible light.

    After reading AAM for a while, this time around I am completely horrified by everything following Betty’s initial “no”.

    I hope OP had a good long think and recalibration of norms after this, and I’d doing well in the workplace now.

  20. AnonAnalyst*

    I get why she was fired. You just don’t do that behavior wise and you go above your manager’s head in very very rare cases. On a technical level though, if the other account was making steady gains with her process improvements and changes, why not try it on a struggling account to see how it goes? Isn’t the goal to gain the most revenue from the account and make the client happy? Run an A/B test to see truly which approach is better? You should be doing what is good for the health of the company. And the company should be wanting to grow. Managers should be willing to try new things. No one is correct in this letter.

    1. STG*

      That’s hard to say without additional info. There could be specific account contractual requirements with this customer that don’t allow some of these changes. There could be new plans already being designed that the OP is unaware of because they aren’t her accounts.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Agreed. OP knew the work she did worked well in another context, but there could be a million reasons why it wasn’t right for this one (even if it was functional)

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Betty can very easily know something that our poster does not know. Perhaps that entire product line is about to be replaced, or the customer is not paying their invoices, or Betty is about to roll out a third solution to test.

    2. Stitch*

      Seconding you can’t know without context. For instance B account may be subject to a regulation she’s not aware of, or explicit client instructions, or a contract provision, or on and on and on.

    3. Observer*

      why not try it on a struggling account to see how it goes?

      There are a number of possible reasons. Clearly, Betty had already thought about this and had plans for whatever changes she thought necessary. Just because someone (with limited information!) has done well on a project that does not mean that automatically the manager suspends their own plans to correct a problem.

      You should be doing what is good for the health of the company.

      True. But the OP has absolutely no way to know that their way is better, or even appropriate. A/B test, etc, are NOT always the appropriate way to handle suggestions from staff. Assuming that the OP knew more about the account and its needs than their manager is a HUGE mistake.

      No one is correct in this letter

      Flat out wrong. There is absolutely no reason to think that the OP’s suggestion would work even as well as whatever Betty had in mind. And given the OP’s incredible lack of judgement, even leaving out their high level of inexperience and lack of knowledge, it’s hard to believe that it’s possible that they could have come up with something that made more sense than what was in the works and the the client would also be on board with AND that would not damage the relationship. (This is not someone who has any clue how to build relationships!)

      1. Greymalkin*

        On that note – OP is such an unreliable narrator, that I doubt the supposed improvements to the original account were as effective as she says.

    4. J.B.*

      The grey hairs on my head are good for something. Now I’m dealing with younglings who want to rush in and make changes, without any idea of the context. If they ask politely, I will explain the reasoning. There’s one who has decided to get snarky, and doesn’t realize the office politics at play. I don’t think it’s coincidence that he’s taking issue with female superiors.

    5. goducks*

      This is an employee still in training. Managers should be open to listening to new ideas, but we have no way of knowing from this LW, who clearly is not good at reading situations, whether this was a case of a manager not listening, or a manager having more information about the account and knowing this new idea was not the right fit.

      At the end of the day, though, it’s the manager’s prerogative to decide that they want to do things in ways that DON’T make the most money for the company. That’s between them and their manager, not the LW.

      1. Candi*

        Sometimes the ways that’ll make the most money will also break something that no sensible person wants broken.

    6. Undine*

      She’d been there five months. She was probably given the easiest most basic account and told how to do it. It’s possible that they hired her at below going rate and her raise was bumping her up to normal rate for a junior employee. That your first account you did went well for a beginner doesn’t mean you have the skills or context to handle a difficult, troubled account that may have history and complexity you are unaware of. There’s no reason the same approach works on every account.

      What is very wrong is to go in assuming your manager–the same person that trained you and helped you succeed on the first account–knows less than you do. Also it’s wrong to take over anyone’s account without discussion. There are always nuances and subtleties. Accounts are usually struggling for a reason and someone completely new to the industry, who has only ever seen one approach and who has never talked to the client, is not the person to “fix” it.

    7. Teapot Repair Technician*

      When I’m new to an existing project, I’m constantly asking, “why are you doing it like this, don’t you know there’s a better way?” And often I come to realize there actually was a good reason for doing it that way.

      It’s a stretch to say that Betty was not “correct” because she undid LW’s unauthorized changes without running an A/B test.

      1. Jam Today*

        Not for nothing but you should unlearn that habit immediately. You are not being helpful, you are being presumptuous and arrogant, and letting your belief that you know better get in the way of actually doing the right thing. Dealing with people who parachute into a project or a company and assume that everyone who has been working there for months or years is too dumb to know there is “a better way” is one of the worst on the job experiences. Endless hours are burned trying to uproot incorrect assumptions, because new people aren’t interested in being quiet and learning.

        1. Teapot Repair Technician*

          Agreed. I should have clarified that I’m asking “why are you doing it like that?” inside my head, not out loud.

          1. faAnalytical Tree Hugger*

            Ooooh, that’s totally fine, especially in combo with you recognizing later that there were factors you didn’t know about.

            Like that idiom, something about: A wise person holds their tongue and is seen to be wise. A fool opens their mouth and shows everyone their foolishness.

            Doesn’t apply when asking questions to learn, of course.

    8. hbc*

      “…why not try it on a struggling account to see how it goes?”

      This is a great question, if asked sincerely and not rhetorically.

      I was brought in as a GM where the explicit goal was to change lots and lots of things that didn’t work at a place that went bankrupt, and even with that mandate, I didn’t charge in and make changes like the OP. No one that new knows what’s good for the health of the company, outside of egregious things like Bring Your Dog to Work (in the cleanroom) Day or “pretty sure we should put the completed medical forms somewhere secure rather than leaving them as reading material in the waiting area.”

    9. Candi*

      Someone pointed out on the original post that this may be an account where every suggested change has to be run by the client before it can be implemented. The client may have to get three layers of permissions before anything can be changed. If the changes aren’t within the clients budget, they may not be usable even if applicable. Another pointed out those changes may not work for that specific client.

      It doesn’t matter how good the changes are if the client doesn’t want them, can’t use them in their business’ context, can’t get them approved, or can’t afford them.

      Betty would know all this. LW, being new and not on that account, wouldn’t.

      A/B approaches don’t usually work on things that have a bunch of moving pieces, and a lot of things with the label “accounts” that aren’t financial tend to have those bunch of pieces.

      LW was handed another account to work on. But rather than show their ability on that account, or make a mockup of the account they wanted to work on, they bulldozed all the way through.

  21. Jam Today*

    I derive the exact same type of enjoyment reading letters like this as I do from bridezilla stories. I can’t get enough of these.

    1. Candi*

      I hope you’ve seen “Fall of Bridezilla” on Not Always Romantic. (Lives next door to Not Always Right.) That one got picked up by honey.nine. (“Groom cancels wedding after bride’s heartless reaction to devastating family news”)

  22. Choggy*

    What is interesting to note is she received a severance check from the company as well! They could have just fired her without any type of compensation.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        She really has no legal grounds to sue.

        She would have a hard time finding a lawyer, as any lawyer willing to take on her case is probably not a really good lawyer to begin with. Even assuming she could get it to court, it would be thrown out.

        1. Polly Hedron*

          I agree that she didn’t deserve any severance and that she had no grounds to sue.
          I would guess that the company gave her severance in the hope that she would go quietly (because any lawsuit is a nuisance).
          Therefore, as long as they were giving her severance, they would have been wise to insist on a no-legal-action agreement in return.

        1. Polly Hedron*

          Oh, she had no grounds, but she could have paid a lawyer up front for a revenge nuisance suit. Since they were paying her anyway, they could have tried to forestall that.

    1. JohannaCabal*

      I was fired once from a poor fit job and while I received a month’s severance, it was still classified as a termination not a layoff (though in hindsight I’m sure I could have pushed back on that).

      And she seemed to think the company was badmouthing her. I doubt that. My guess is, the higher-ups told everyone to give her a neutral reference in order to keep her away legally. She was probably having trouble finding another job due to lack of recent work experience other than the full-time job she lost (which was only a few months to begin with). Plus, I’m sure her indignation at the experience carried over into interviews.

  23. Greymalkin*

    “I think Betty may even have spread harsh rumors about me in the industry because despite applying to a bunch of jobs since then, I’ve had very few interviews, and the ones I’ve had never went past the references stage.”

    Well, it definitely couldn’t have been anything the OP said or did…
    I’m willing to bet a tidy sum that the OP was so unaware of workplace norms that she told some version of this sob story in her interviews (when asked why she’s no longer employed at that company), effectively torpedoing her chances of getting an offer.

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if you were right. I can only imagine, based on the tone of this letter, what the OP’s response to an interview question like “Why did you leave your last position?” would be.

    2. Dr.OO7*

      And once they got the straight story from Betty and co., it looks like the LW is flat out lying rather than just putting a spin on things.

  24. Working for the weekend*

    “Betty was very quiet during this meeting. At the time I figured she just couldn’t think of how to defend her actions.”

    If I was Betty, I probably also would have been very quiet, from biting my tongue to not say anything to jeopardize my own job. I also found it interesting that Betty was not part of terminating the LW. Perhaps other companies are different, but in mine, it’s your direct supervisor and a person from HR. Our boss’s boss was never part of a termination unless it was their direct report.

    And since Veronica AND the CEO both were involved in the termination, I don’t think it’s Betty who may be sharing about their experience with this employee across the industry. LW burned a lot of bridges under the her delusion of “taking initiative.”

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      If I was Betty, I would have been quiet because people like OP will hang themselves, given enough rope. Don’t bother to say anything, they’ll talk themselves out of the job.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      If I were Betty I’d be biting my lip to stop from laughing. Watching someone else dig themselves further into a hole is really hilarious sometimes.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      If I were Betty, I’d be quiet because I’d be doing mental calculus trying to figure out “can we still keep LW or are they a lost cause?” Also, what’s the point of trying to talk over LW, who’s screaming and obviously not planning on letting me get a word in? Let them talk.

    4. Candi*

      In the comments on the original post, someone posited the theory they were trying to get ahead of LW’s proven tendency to try to get around decisions she didn’t like. By having the CEO there, they were saying, “There is NO APPEAL.”

      Someone also made a comment about Betty watching LW dig her own grave, another said she’d be thinking about how to get LW out of the room so she could explain to Veronica, and another comment was about going over all the i’s and t’s that had to marked off to properly fire LW.

      The list of reasons for Betty to keep quiet and just let LW stick holes in her own liferaft is long and highly amusing. :)

  25. Coast East*

    I’ve never heard a soundtrack playing in my head while reading a letter before, but Rachel Bloom’s “Villain of My Own Story” certainly fit the bill.
    (One would also think a mom would hate the idea of ‘mom and popin” in the workspace but guess not)

  26. Anony7438*

    Op, when I was first reading your letter, I was on your side until you mentioned that you went to your boss’s boss after speaking to your direct manager about it. I think that’s where you went wrong. Sometimes, as a staff member, you might not have all of the info that someone in management has, so that’s where you might have overstepped your boundaries.

  27. Tuesday*

    What sucks is that this was such an amazing opportunity for the letter writer. She had been out of the workforce for five years and didn’t have the qualifications, but they were willing to train her. It’s a position so many people would have been thrilled to find.

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      And before all this, she seemed to be doing fine! Gotten a raise and everyone was happy with her!

      She could have climbed the ladder, she didn’t need to try to put on a jet pack.

    2. Nope*

      Stories like this LW’s are the reason most employers are not moved by an inexperienced applicant’s plea to “just give me a chance!”

  28. Whomever*

    For those saying “I can’t believe someone could be this obtuse”, I’ll tell a story about a certain employee at a very large, very famous company. (This story is legendary enough inside the company I’m sure other employees will recognize it immediately).

    New employee starts and starts posting a LOT of criticisms to company wide social email list. Starts talking about how bad his management was, everything the company was doing wrong, etc. This guy was almost the ultimate in Dunning Kreuger, he would claim to be an expert on things he clearly was absolutely clueless about.

    Most legendarily, company enters a new teapot buisiness. Makes mistakes etc. Employee proceeds to post to large company-wide mailing list that “They should have consulted with me!” followed by “I’m at a [very high level in org]/executive level … in terms of big-picture vision” bear in mind this guy was pretty low level in a company of 150k+ employees. Also, turns out this guy had once designed a poorly received teapot elsewhere and that was what he was using as his cred.

    Eventually he’s eased out where he proceeds to write completely unhinged rants about the company on his personal blog, and “I’m at [very high level] in terms of big-picture vision” became a joking catchphrase at the company. Funnily enough, a co-worker of mine (who started long after he’d left), when I mentioned the name got a Look. Apparently this guy had pulled the same thing at company SHE had previously worked, so it wasn’t just us.

    1. Minerva*

      There is a story about a new hire (selective internship that moves to set up a good career) and a YouTube channel. Said ex employee is said to be the cause of a detailed social media training.

  29. MissBaudelaire*

    Is one check in a day really very little?

    I get the feeling even if Betty had been handholding her, OP would have called her a micromanager and gotten snotty about that.

    If I needed a job that bad, I sure wouldn’t call my manager unprofessional and be nasty to them in a meeting! Or gone behind their back!

    1. irene adler*

      Personally, I think a once a day check-in is just fine. And I work at a small company (< 20 employees).

      That said, if more time/attention is needed by the employee, it should be made known that this can be requested by the employee.

      Part of this feels like the attitude of an employee from the 1970's was transplanted into 2016. That said, OP did do some of this well: learning on her own, successfully completing some projects. Unfortunately, going outside of Betty's direction was not okay. Big time not okay.

  30. DJ Abbott*

    This illustrates something I’ve been thinking about working at the deli.
    The deli manager is rude and intimidating and has hurtful and disrespectful ways of expressing herself. She has offended everyone who has worked for her and it’s perfectly natural to feel like she’s a jerk and you want to quit.
    But as a manager, she still has to be respected and worked with. I’m really proud I’ve been able to do that even though it’s been several decades since I had done restaurant work. When I was younger I would have
    been so offended I would’ve gotten a bad attitude in response to the way she treats people, and that would have gotten me fired.

  31. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    One thing I learned early in my career – DON’T USURP/UNDERMINE YOUR BOSS’ AUTHORITY… unless specifically initiated by a higher up – AND before proceeding you ask “hey isn’t this going against MyBoss’ plan?”

    Your boss will (almost) always be backed up by his or her superior. No matter how dead wrong he or she is/was.

    The only way you’ll be backed up against your immediate superior is if there’s a violation of law which could get the company’s financial a$$ in a sling, or there’s going to be a major revenue loss. Even then, management might decide to “stick to (their) guns”.

    1. J.B.*

      I did go around my boss once, and that experience taught me the futility of doing so. I moved within the organization and eventually learned the dysfunction underpinning everything.

      1. Candi*

        There’s a reason why, when Alison gives advice about going to the grandboss, it’s very very detailed, specific, has several paths, and has both “it may not work anyway” and “in dysfunctional companies, X and Y may/may not apply.”

  32. Liz T*

    What I love about this one is that OP is mad that Betty did exactly what OP herself did–circumvent the other person when they weren’t around. Why would OP be surprised that Betty undid her work over the weekend? I thought when someone’s off work it’s like they no longer exist, OP? Isn’t that your rule??

  33. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    I really honestly hope the OP realised at some point in the intervening years that they’d really done screwed up and that they couldn’t blame anyone but themselves and worked to never let that happen again.

    Hi, I’m Keymaster and long ago I really massively screwed up, was convinced that I was right, came within an inch of being kicked out of the firm (which in the UK is a bit harder) and nearly burnt my career to the ground.

    Coming to grips with the realisation that the only person in the wrong is in fact YOU isn’t a nice process.

    It is, however, a key part of being a professional: own your mistakes and make sure you don’t repeat them.

  34. cactus lady*

    The thing that bothers me most about this letter is that people like this are why it’s so hard for women who’ve taken time off to raise kids to return to the workplace.

    1. Observer*

      No, people like this are NOT the reason women have a hard time coming back into the workforce. Because non-bigoted people don’t have an outlandish experience with someone and decide based on that that all women who take time off to raise their kids are impossible people with no sense of appropriate behavior.

      As yourself this: Would you find this statement acceptable or correct if you replaced “women who have taken time off to raise kids” with almost any other group?

      1. Minerva*

        Nope. This person matches the attitude of a relative at multiple jobs before she had kids, and lone wolf tech bros at multiple jobs. One white dude with a bad attitude doesn’t make everyone hesitate to hire white dudes.

    2. rl09*

      It kind of reminds me of AAM letters we’ve seen in the past where former stay-at-home moms put “CEO of Smith Residence” or something like that on their resume…it’s just so out-of-touch with professional norms and it plays into some really unfortunate stereotypes about moms who are trying to return to the workforce.

      But I do agree with Observer — just because the stereotype exists, does not justify discrimination.

    1. irene adler*

      I have a feeling that Betty MIGHT have been willing to keep the OP on, as some good work was done on prior projects.
      But Veronica and CEO made the right choice here.

  35. Fergus The Llama Juggler*

    Sometimes I wish Allison would do a “worst employees” to go along with “worst bosses” at the end of each year but then I think there are probably not enough letters from those kind of employees that she answers.

    1. Teapot Repair Technician*

      That would be fun. But I think the people on that list should be the subjects of letters, not the letter writers themselves.

      As bad as they might be, people who write in need advice, not to be ranked on how bad they are.

      1. Candi*

        As I remember, one of the rules of “bad boss of the year” is someone else has to write in about them. People who tell on themselves, even if they never achieve self-awareness, are not in the running because she wants to encourage them to keep writing in.

        The self-awareness does occasionally happen. The “I’m jealous of my attractive employee and it’s impacting how I treat her” boss eventually got there.

        There’s also something about not doing bad employees, but I don’t remember the phrasing on that.

  36. Former HR Staffer*

    1. the husband is on her side bc he’s likely only getting half of a very skewed story in which she has oainted herself as the victim and/or 2. he is stuck with her for the rest of his life and realizes pointing out her role in her termination is a losing game.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I am suspecting some variation of #2 with OP’s friends, too. They say “count your blessings that you’re out of that environment” because they know OP would come down on them like a ton of bricks if they dare to disagree, and they may not be ready for that kind of an implosion in their friend group just yet.

    2. Candi*

      He’s not stuck with her for the rest of his life in theory, but divorce is expensive even when it’s not from a drama queen. Plus too many people think they have to stay together for the kids, because society expects it, because the church would be offended, and more of a whole long list of reasons that boil down to current culture is very screwed up.

  37. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

    This, and Cheap Ass Rolls, is a letter I almost feel could be fake. Not saying Alison made it up, but the LW did. Or at least embellished a lot. If it’s 100% true, wow, I never want to be around people again. Sort of like work would be so much better without customers, life would be so much better without people.

    1. Laure*

      I agree with you. This letter has always felt false to me, as if it was Betty writing it, pretending to be her crazy employee to see on which the commentariat of Ask a manager would be.

      Strangely enough, the cheap ass rolls letter feels true to me! :)

    2. Candi*

      A lot of people in the original post and on this one have told stories of people they knew who were very much like LW, including the total obliviousness of how wrong they really, truly were.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Having sat through a whole class based on the How to Win Friends and Influence People book when I was 20, I’m of an opinion that this book, and related ones, and the whole school of th0ught behind them, have influenced a lot of people greatly. Mainly in the US, but my class on the book was in Home Country, with the idea behind it being that we take the US as an example and follow it. There are a lot of posts and comments on this blog about gumption. Admittedly, gumption cannot explain Cheap Ass Rolls. I don’t know what that person’s deal was.

      1. Candi*

        Ego, self-centeredness, an unwillingness to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, and taking every mistake as a personal slight instead of, say, someone’s brain misfiring or them not having a lot of time to grab something for the office.

        …I really hope no one has to put up with LW and CAR lady at the same time, unless there’s huge improvement on both their parts.

  38. Sail On, Sailor*

    I’m not ashamed to admit that getting to read letters like this one is sometimes my top reason for checking out the daily AAM. (Learning from others’ experiences, I’m sure, is a fairly close second.)

  39. Erin*

    The LOL part of this for me was how this woman describes re-entering the workforce after raising her kids for 5 years. She essentially pulled a “mom said no, so I’ll ask dad” with her manager & manager’s manager, threw a temper tantrum, and can’t figure out why she’s been put in time-out

  40. CoveredInBees*

    I read this for the first time a few hours ago and I’m still agog. I hope the LW has gained some sense of perspective by now.

  41. Raida*

    [When she undid the work that you did after she specifically told you not to, you called that sabotage (!). You described her as “passive-aggressive” when she said you’d need to meet to discuss all this, when that’s just straightforward and direct. ]

    I do think that seeing the changes, messing with it all over the weekend, and then saying in text that they’ll need to talk about it was a STUPID approach by the manager, however.
    A SMART manager sees the changes, checks the results, sets up the meeting on Monday, finds out Veronica was involved, gets clarity on everything that’d been done, explains to Veronica why it wasn’t done in the first place and will be reverted, and THEN reverts work IF IT MAKES SENSE TO DO SO. They don’t dig in over the weekend without someone on-hand that’s done the work and modify things. That’s just being posessive and silly, and possibly destroying valuable tools and processes and content they could have leveraged.

    1. PollyQ*

      You’re assuming a number of things:

      1) Betty didn’t talk to Veronica over the weekend, before she made the changes.
      2) Veronica had any interest in the day-to-day details of Betty’s work.
      3) Betty wasn’t able to look at the changes and immediately see that it did make sense to make the changes.
      4) A copy of the files as they were before Betty changed them wasn’t kept. (Just in case there was some value from LW.)

      We, the readers, have no idea of the comparative value of Betty’s work vs. LW’s. Given that, it’s simply not possible to say whether it was a mistake, let alone “STUPID”, for Betty to use her judgment about reverting the changes made to her files on her project.

    2. Candi*

      Reverts work the client didn’t order and didn’t pay for.

      They’re making this stuff/doing this work to order for a client. It doesn’t matter what they think is or isn’t good -if the client didn’t approve it, it can’t stay.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      Or there is a deliverable due to the client in short order and, if Betty does not ruin the last weekend of her vacation cleaning up OP’s mess, the deadline is blown. Your assessment really hinges on OP’s assessment of her amazing contributions to this project when it’s just as likely that she effed the whole thing up and Betty didn’t need her input to restore the client’s project to it’s intended state.

      I’ve worked with people like OP who are just convinced that they’ve vastly improved a client’s project when they’ve never met the client, read the project/contract requirements, or have any concept of the budget. And then leave a mess for the responsible party to clean up all the while huffing about how ungrateful people are for their “help”.

      1. Anony Mouse*

        Yep. I’ve done this, with a rather clunky database. Other co-worker on the tech side made an assumption about what we would want, and acting on initiative, block-archived all of the previous year’s entries. Most, but not all, shouldn’t have been archived, and we were right up against a legal deadline at which we had to publish data to a website that was populated from this database. That was a late night changing them back.

    4. Nom*

      I think the thing you’re missing here is that it was Betty’s project and she understood the work that needed to be done. She’s the manager and has authority over the work, she doesn’t need to check with anyone to see what had been done. It’s not being possessive to assert authority as a manager over client work they are managing.

  42. just me*

    I went into this one thinking “ugh. Another terrible manager.” Until I got to “waited until the next day when Betty left for a vacation.” Yeah.. no. You don’t do that.

    Of course, Veronica shouldn’t have told her to go ahead with the changes. Which makes me wonder if LW was honest when she talked to Veronica. I suspect she indicated that Betty was OK with it, and just needed Veronica’s approval.

  43. Paul Pearson*

    Ah the sound of Alison taking the gloves off

    Sometimes I am just bemused by the angles people can twist to try and see events in a way that paints them as the wronged one when their ill-advised actions are really clear. So many people would benefit from taking a big step back, removing themselves before examining the situation

  44. Cringing 24/7*

    This one is always such a cringey joy to read, and what stood out to me the most this time around is the assertion that she wasn’t trained by the company/her manger and that she trained herself, when, like… no. They provided you with training manuals that the company took time putting together and met with you *daily* and put you through online certification classes and gave you introductory work… that *all* is a part of them training you. You don’t get to take credit for those resources that were handed to you like you had to do your own research to get there.

    I know there are a lot of yikes moments in this post, but that’s the one that really wombles my gomble today.

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